Off Overseas! Tasmania here we come.

Amid the covid lockdowns in several states of Australia , we in Queensland are fairly safe so we are permitted to enter Tasmania. At the moment!

We are heading to the island state of Tasmania to visit friends Ginetta & Stephen. They moved there about 5 years ago and love it.

After spending last year in France & Italy dodging covid they are back in covid safe little Tasmania.

We plan to fly into Hobart, spend a day or so there before heading to Bicheno and then progressing in an anti clockwise direction around the island.

We were meant to be driving our MG all the way down. Through NSW, Victoria onto the car ferry and arrive in Devonport. But those states are closed so w we are flying.

Tasmania is beautiful. It’s cold, clean and has great food and wine. So follow on for some armchair travel.

Last night at Dulacca

For the first time this trip we had a cooked breakfast! We’ve been having fruit or porridge in Steve’s case.

Today we went to a big bakery that offered a Country breakfast. Great value with 2 poached eggs, tomato and a heap of bacon. it stopped me but Steve was in breakfast heaven.

Friends had told me to explore Ace Drapery in the main street of Roma. An Aladdin cave we were told.

My word it is. Rows of everything. Like a department store but just shelves littered with things.

Outside Ace Drapery store
Inside one of the
aisles

Needing a little tranquility after the chaos of Ace’s we followed the honour avenue of bottle trees. A bottle tree was planted for each man lost in the war. It finished at the biggest bottle tree.

It’s quite a sight. It takes six people holding hands to ring it’s girth.

The tree is situated near the park called Shady’s Lagoon. It’s a pretty area. Very peaceful. It’s also the area where a friend would bring her beautiful mother Valerie to enjoy a coffee and chat. Valerie enjoyed this area till she passed away just before her 100th birthday.

This photo is for Valerie.

Farewelling Roma we headed east towards Dulacca then south to Craigslea, a cattle property belonging to friends.

Steve and Duncan on the quad bike rounding up some cattle

That night the sky was magnificent.

Our country adventure was over. We had a great time and encourage everyone to take time to visit these wonderful country areas.

Roma: Queensland not Italy

The road to Roma was great. The landscape is different to the landscape of the past few days.

A coffee break at Mitchell for the best bakery yet kept is going

Today is sales day in Roma. We heard this was a must. And today was to be a huge day of sales.

What an experience.

The cattle are all penned in groups. The auctioneer moves down one side shouting out prices at a cracking pace. The stock agents are on the other side bidding.

Auctioneers.
Agents for the owners bid.
Pen after pen.

The cattle are weighed and priced.

Check out the prices. It is amazing how quickly it all happens.

The interactive centre on site explains everything that happens. Wonderful displays.

I needed to get my cowgirl look happening.

I needed a check shirt,❌ warm padded vest, ❌ jeans ✔️pearl earrings ✔️ sturdy slightly muddy boots ❌ ( mine were too clean ) cattle hat ❌. Mine was a sheep style narrow brim. 😬 cattle hats are wide brim.

Definitely would be identified as a non local. A blow in!

Cattle hat. Wide brim.

Feeling slightly dusty we stopped at the wonderful sculpture exhibition by the side of the road. Local sculptors made some great work. It was up for sale. Between $2000 and &12000.

Loved this wooden one titled Family Tree

Visiting the Roma bush gardens helped us identify local trees.

Though slightly amused when we had to move off the walking track for a police car

Back in the car. Y 5pm for a visit to the Big Rig. Oil & gas show.

The story of gas & oil rigs in Roma
The big rig.

Interesting show interesting story but slightly underwhelming.

Tomorrow we explore the Main Street area of Roma before heading to stay on our friends cattle property at Drillham.

Charleville: Lots to See

Our morning started out very chilly! It was 0% here last night.

First stop was the bakery recommended by Sue, the mental health nurse we met in Thargomindah. She was right. It was great. the Sun was out and we sat and enjoyed both it and the coffee.

Across the road – nothing is far here , we went to the Historic House Museum.

Dating back to 1887 the building was purpose built as Charleville’s first national bank, before it went onto become a private boarding house until the 1970’s when it was purchased by the Charleville and District Historical Society. It then became the museum it is today. Filled to the brim with treasures of yesteryear, some dating back as far as the 1800’s.

I particularly like some of the old magazines. I once wrote a blog post on how to pack for a holiday. This magazine gave timeless suggestions on packing including some hints about gloves. Something I had overlooked!!

Visiting country towns I like to support the arts and crafts done by locals.

When I had young children I did various arts & craft and used to sell at markets. I did screen printed t shirts, mosaics, painted pots, folk art painted timber boxes , watercolour paintings – just to name a few. so I like to buy local.

In the store I bought a wooden truck for my little boys, a painted lady beetle for the garden and a metal chook to guard the cubby house.

Lovely back garden of the buy local shop.

Next stop was out of town. We had booked on the secret WW2 tour. How many people knew there is such a site here in Charleville.

We discovered why over 3500 United States Army Airforce personnel were stationed in Charleville during WWII. Julie our guide led, in convoy, a tour to discover; aviation history, romance stories, living quarters and the extreme measures taken to keep one of the most sought after secrets of WWII, safe.

That secret, still not written about in the brochure was the Norden Bombsite. It is a piece of top secret machinery used during the war to pinpoint bomb sites during the day.

It’s housed in this bomb proof shelter.

And when I show and tell you this you have to keep it secret! Shhhh

The actual Norden bomb site.

From there we stopped at other areas.

A more fun one especially for the local girls.
Particularly necessary facilities

During the tour we got in and out of our 4wheel drives – again we were so pleased we had left our white BMW at home!

The other tourists were mostly caravaners. A man crazy about things military, from Ballarat. A singlet wearing man and his wife with their two dogs , a younger man in the area filming the Channel 7 show Opal Hunters. such a diverse group.

Next stop was the Royal Flying Doctors. Such an interesting museum. They do so much to support the people who live in these remote areas. Please donate if you get the chance.

Heading back to town we stopped at a park which had the most unusual sculptures. They were actually an invention. What do you think they are?

Did you guess? Read the text on the next picture.

What an idea. One that didn’t work.

Back to the motel to read the papers before heading to the Historic Hotel Corones

Built in 1924 it is quite a landmark.
Wonderful timber staircase

Dinner called so we inquired. Bob the owner suggested Malaysian. Not what we expected. They had the usual pub fare. Burgers. Pizzas etc. but he said they were trialing Malaysian curries. We decided to live dangerously.

Not bad at all.

However the lovely people we met on the way in didn’t feel so adventurous and opted for pizza.

We met these two couples from properties in Moree. What lovely fun people.

We’ve exchanged contact details and I’m sure we’ll catch up. They have kids in Brisbane so often come up. Hope so. They were great fun.

We couldn’t spend too long chatting as we were booked at the Cosmos Centre. Back out of town near the Secret WW2site.

After these indoor photos we went out doors and for an hour and used powerful telescopes and learned about and viewed several stars, a nebula, and finally the best view of the moon I’ve ever seen. Quite amazing.

Our guides for this were 17 year astronomy nuts. They were so professional. In the dark it was impossible to see what they looked like but they sounded so knowledgeable. we’ll done to them

By now pretty close to freezing we wanted to get back to the hotel. Tomorrow Roma.

On the road. Thargomindah to Charleville

Why take the short route when you can take the long way and explore this big country of ours.

First stop Noccundra for the second oldest pub in Qld. The Noccundra Hotel is smaller than the Nindagully Pub and much more remote.

A coffee for me. Yes, even out this far you can get a good coffee. AND believe it or not a beer for Steve. At 10.30 in the morning simply because it is the second oldest pub!

There were some campers and fishers enjoying the waterhole. Again it’s very muddy. No blue water here despite the beautiful blue sky.

The landscape here is flat and red

I chatted to the lady at the bar. One of a population of 3! She’s been in Noccundra for 9 years. How on earth I wonder. You’d have to have a hobby that didn’t involve drinking. I think I’d write. Perhaps paint. What would you do?

Actually, it would be like living in lockdown. All the time! With a few visitors a day allowed in.

Next stop Eromanga. Slightly bigger population. Also home to a beautiful metal dinosaur named Knot-o-saurus. It was gifted to this town by former Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Campbell Newman after it was centrepiece for the G20.

Eromanga is also famous for being the town in Australia furthest from the sea. Who would have thought ! So I got my map out and was looking at distances.

Down the road – about another 2.5hrs is Quilpie. Slightly bigger with people having a bit of a bowls carnival. So we saw some people. Sunday in small towns you don’t see a lot of people around. Everything is closed.

Arrived in Charleville at around 5pm and it was getting very cool. We chose the Rocks Motel as they have a restaurant and we thought that would be a good option.

When we checked in the young girl, Phoneix at reception told us her family had only taken ownership of the motel a week ago. They found the restaurant staff has been stealing. Cash, meat and alcohol. So they had to let them go. Restaurant closed! Now they need a chef and staff. So hard in small towns

So it was off to the RSL for dinner. All tables seemed to have travellers and workers in high vis vests.

We waved to the motel owners as we left. Even they needed a feed!

It was a quiet and cool walk home.

Thargomindah’s Country Music Muster

The dusty road out to the rodeo grounds

Thargomindah is a sleepy peaceful town.

As we made our way the 3km out of town we wondered how many would be attending the Music Muster.

Judging by the caravans set up around the rodeo ring – quite a few. turns out it’s about 400 people.

We got out of our car looking like city dwellers invading the caravaners space. I was thankful we had hired a 4wheel drive and hadn’t brought our white BMW!

The tents were set up , the crowd were all relaxing on their deck chairs and the country artists were on their way.

It was off to the canteen for coffee first then our chairs and extra layers of clothing. The rain has gone because a fierce wind has picked up.

It was dusty and cold. We moved to a new spot and I got chatting to a lady visiting from Griffith. She said they’d been on the road a few weeks and we’re heading g further north chasing the warmer weather.

I browsed the few stalls and wondered which boots and hat I might buy.

Or perhaps some camping gear.

We listened to Bob and Brian and Ted. Everyone seems to know them so they don’t need surnames. They sang about rain, lost love, pink cars the mountains and before long I was tapping along.

I spent some time checking out the other 🎶 muster fans and decided we really didn’t fit the age range or appropriate outfit selection.

Time to return to town for a burger lunch at our cabin. Sitting outside in a sheltered sunny spot we dusted ourselves off before setting off for a wander around town and along the river.

There’s a lovely river walk where a few fisher people were casting lines. The river is so muddy you wouldn’t know what you might hook.

It’s strangely beautiful looking at water, the same colour as the riverbank it touches.

It would be easy to sit here for hours fishing line in hand. Very meditative.

The town itself has only a few amenities. One Foodworks for groceries, a petrol station with hot food, a pub, the Oasis motel & restaurant , an information centre, primary school, swimming pool and best of all a very neat Library!

For not the first time I wondered what people do here all the time? You’d have to do something creative and get involved in community activities.

I’d say today most locals are out at the muster volunteering on the canteen and ticket sales.

Tonight we’re off to the Bulloo River Hotel for dinner and a continuation of the music with Rob, Tom, Brian, Ged & Trudy …….

St George to Thargomindah

Lots of rain last night so we had a slow start to our day. I love these little motels in country towns. All compact, clean and good for a night.

Golders is the place to go for outdoor indoor wear. Lots of flanno / flannelette shirts. Perfect for country wear. Hats of all sizes and jeans, boots , fleecy jackets. Even Bluey accessories for kids.

Steve got some jeans. ✔️ I tried for gum boots but no luck in my size.

Rain was still lightly falling, settling the red dust so we headed off.

First stop, Bollon. Coffee at Deb’s where all the caravaners – (known as ‘grey nomads’ here in Australia) stop. They are all over 60 and have grey hair – sorts & flannelette shirts for the men. Fleecy jackets & jeans for the women.

We crossed the wide street to the Heritage Centre. Run by volunteers it is a good collection of photographs and memorabilia collected from over many years. Tells a story about the local people which now numbers around 110.

Further down the street we stopped at the Nullawooka Art gallery of the First Nations People. we met Bill, a proud Gwamu/Kooma elder and a traditional custodian of the area.

Bill is a charming man and we could have stayed chatting to him the whole morning. He has a small gallery full of well chosen art, crafts, books & food. All are made by local First Nations people. We bought a few gifts, books, tea towel and postcards / with an image by artist Rebecca Jane who visited from Hervey Bay. It shows the town people and buildings.

The Nullawokka Gallery was the Post Office

Though it used to be the Post Office, Bill doesn’t sell stamps so he send me around the corner to the new PO. Run by Amanda who hails from WA she chatted about relocating to Bollon. Of all places. Fascinating how some people will uproot themselves and pop up somewhere completely different. She was lovely.

Back into the car and out along the straight road passing huge fields into Cunnamulla. Lunch break.

Sharing a sandwich in the park we were joined by the local busker. He was weathered by life in the country. Very few teeth but a big smile and loved a chat.

He had set up in the rotunda with his guitar, mic and sound system. When he returned to singing we were his only audience as he sang the same song about Jesus. Over and over using one chord. A great character.

Onto Eulo and the giant metal sculpture of a lizard. We noted on the map of points off interest in the town – the lizard race track. Pity that’s not on.

Off again on the straight as an arrow road we stopped at Lake Bindegully. By now it was very windy and getting late. The 5 km walk into the lake didn’t appeal so sadly we missed the bird life.

Thargomindah, meaning ‘cloud of dust’ is living up to its name. It’s very windy and dusty.

It’s a small quiet town with a population of around 250. It was a Cobb & Co stopping point. This weekend it’s holding its annual Country Music Muster.

Our little cabin in the caravan park is great and dinner at the local pub was friendly and filling.

Looking forward to tomorrow’s country & western music.

Heading out West : Goondiwindi

It’s good to get away for a road trip – especially during these random covid lockdowns.

We decided to stay in Queensland to avoid border closures.

Looking at the ‘What’s On’ on Queensland website and the dates we could travel, we came upon the Thargomindah Channel Country Music muster.

2 Days of Bootscootn’, Toetappin’, Bush Poetry , Country and Western music.

Thargomindah is a long way from Brisbane which means a couple of nights along the way.

First stop – one of my favourite country towns, Goondiwindi. This is primarily cotton country. As you drive from Toowoomba you start to see little cotton balls along the roadside. And rolled bales in the fields.

Arriving in Gundi – as it’s known – we are staying for the third time in the motel just off the Marshall Street. Just near the New Dynasty Chinese restaurant, where we are meeting friends for dinner tonight.

I headed straight out for a walk down Marshall St. I love the Art Deco buildings.

The Main Street has beautiful buildings and a good selection of shops. Nutmeg with its homewares, Audrey has beautiful clothes and just off the Main Street is the Goondiwindi Cotton Company. I’m headed there tomorrow!

https://goondiwindicotton.com.au

We met up with Sandi and Mike Henderson, parents in law to our friend Lauren Harrison- now Henderson. We love catching up for a drink and tonight a meal at the Chinese. Lauren& Nick have two little boys. Beautiful boys – and George 3 is mad about everything farming. we had a great meal and shared lots of chat and laughs before the two little boys needed their beds!

We headed to our motel in time for some TV.

Tonight is State of Origin night and this town so close to the border of NSW is torn about who to support!

Tomorrow more exploring along the art & sculpture trail before heading to St George.

Farewell Lady Elliot

Last day.

Our fifth & last day has arrived and we are keeping our fingers crossed for some fine weather.

It started out cloudy and a little drizzly so after breakfast we braved the conditions and did a reef walk with Jacinta.

She’s a marine biologist and has lived here for 3 years. She was able to fill us in on all we could spot on the calf high water of the lagoon.

We handled a sea cucumber – lovely and slimy and not as prickly as they look.

We headed over the runway to the light house and made our way along the beach to enter at the coral garden. The wind has changed and it’s a little windy at the lighthouse ended today.

I’m writing this sitting in a white moulded deck chair. I had the loveliest snorkel in the coral garden. Aptly named it’s a real garden of blue tipped coral with so many beautiful fish.

We haven’t spotted a manta ray except through the glass bottom boat. But not while snorkelling. The fish life more than made up for it.

The sky is blue and the sun is out. Perfect for our last day.

We stay at coral gardens until at least 2.30. We skip lunch each day having had a great breakfast but today I’m feeling hungry. We eat some cheese then still dresses in my wetsuit Steve & I head to the lagoon out the front of our cabin.

It’s been very windy there all week but Jacinta, our guide this morning, convinced us it would be worth snorkeling at high tide.

In we went. It was windy but underwater was another world. It’s just deep enough to kick along so you are very close to the reef.

We spotted and swam with three big turtles and a black tipped shark. Lots of colourful fish. An octopus…….

Such a great way to finish.

Dinner tonight: salmon, potato bake, salad and fresh vegetables!

Another night of 500.

I’m hooked!

Farewell Lady Elliot. I think we’ll be back

Welcome to Lady Elliot Island – LEI

Flying north over the Pacific Ocean the blue of the water was exhilarating.

We flew along side of Fraser island – that waste sand island. Coming to Lady Elliot we could take it all in in one glimpse. A spec in the ocean surrounded by lagoons of coral filled with colourful fish and manta rays – even able to be seen by air.

We landed on the grassy airstrip which divides the island. The resort is one side and the large lagoon the other.

We were greeted not with an island style flower lei but with a big grin and a ‘welcome all’ by Mary a staff member.

She gave us a quick orientation talk / tour then allowed us to check in , to go to the dive shop and be kitted out with fins, snorkel-even a wet suit if needed.

I was pleased I’d brought my $10 Aldi wetsuit bought two years ago and never worn. It’s quite windy on the island and with temperatures dropping to 23 it could be cool getting in and out of the water.

There is only one resort here and people come for the snorkeling, diving , birdwatching, and reef walking. It’s not a glamour resort. No resort wear needed.

People are wearing shorts or jeans, and the ‘hoodie’ a fleece lined jumper. It’s not freezing just a little cool. Tomorrow should be warmer.

We settled into our rooms which though small are well suited for a relaxed 5 nights. There is a good sized verandah, somewhere to hang wet gear , comfortable chairs for reading and a beautiful view towards the lagoon just beyond our cabin.

At 2 o’clock we headed across to the lighthouse lagoon crossing the grassy airfield.

We wore our reef shoes into the water carrying our fins and snorkels. About 50 metres out there is a tall pole with a basket to store your reef shoes as you don the fins and swim out.

We were able to immediately enter the coral garden and start watching the colourful fish darting every which way along the ocean floor. Magical.

We swam along the roped off area where every 100 metre there’s a little platform you could stop and hold on and chat with your companions.

We’re traveling with Ralph and Frances, friends who love swimming and had come to our past trip to Vanuatu ( check out that blog post if you haven’t read it already)

We swam around for an hour or so and though the water temperature was nice I was happy to be wearing my wetsuit as the wind was cool as we left the water.

It’s hard going walking out. Lots of rocks and uneven surfaces makes you feel very clumsy!!!

Back to our cabin for a warm shower and afternoon cuppa before heading over the island for our sunset drinks.

What a sunset. Absolutely gorgeous.

You’ll find is here each evening!!

Dinner in the dining room is a simple but satisfying meal. Carrot soup followed by lamb shanks, beef ribs , fresh vegetables, polenta and a lentil dish. All very tasty. With a nice glass of red we were ready for bed by 8.30.

We’re on island time already!